Tonga has become a more popular surf destination in recent years. Tonga consists of the main island of Tongatapu plus the island chains of Ha'apai and Vava'u.
The Ha'atafu Beach Resort is located on Tongatapu. The camp, run by an Aussie, is located on a lagoon with surf at a couple of breaks out in front. The rate at Ha'atafu Beach Resort includes breakfast and dinner each day.
There are a number of other accommodation options in Tonga, although surf access is difficult without a boat. Tonga gets surf year round with north swells in our summer months and south swell in the winter months.
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The local Tongan currency is the pa'anga. Credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted, particularly the more common ones. There are three commercial banks in Nuku'alofa (Bank of Tonga, ANZ Bank and Malaysian Borneo Finance Bank), and branches of the Bank of Tonga in Tongatapu, Vava'u a, Hapai and 'Eua and the ANZ in Neiafu.
Normal banking hours: 9:00am to 3:30pm (Monday to Friday) and from 8:30 to 11:30am on Saturdays.
No visa is necessary for stays less than 30 days (travelling on NZ passports) as long as the traveller has a valid passport and onward ticket.
Tonga has two distinct seasons. December to April is the hot, wet season with temperatures rising up to 33°C, but modified somewhat by light tradewinds, particularly in the evening. The country's 1600 mm of annual rain usually falls during this humid season, which is also cyclone season.
However, major cyclones usually only occur every 10-15 years. May to November is the cool, dry season, with temperatures ranging between 17°C and 22°C. The cooling tradewinds blow during this season, making for very pleasant days and refreshingly cool nights.
While Tongan is the native tongue, and is spoken at home, the language of business is English, which is taught in all schools from a young age.
The Free Wesleyan Methodist Church is the official church of Tonga, but there are many Catholic churches and a growing number of Churches of the Latter Day Saints. Tonga is a deeply religious nation and Sunday is a day of worship, with no commerce or recreation.
Travellers are advised to be immunised against hepatitis before coming to Tonga. Take care to prevent the usual kinds of infection from contaminated food and water and coral cuts, which can turn nasty quickly.
Medical facilities are limited, although there are hospitals in Nuku'alofa and Neiofu that have emergency and outpatients rooms. There are also some private doctors.
Although the water is treated and of good quality in Nuku'alofa and other centres where piped water is available, it's always wise to check if it is treated. Water should be be boiled or bottled water drunk in rural areas.